Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!


Quick Start Forum Video Tutorial

Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

The main site has all the formal medical articles and videos for you to research on.

Three level disc replacement

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,208
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi, my name is Janey, I'm new here, and I'm from England - I see there are other Brits on here as well!

On December 1st I'm going in for three level disc replacement, which I'm told is a huge and risky operation. The NHS won't fund it as they see it as too risky and with little chance of helping me improve, but like most people on here I feel I have no choice. Fusion isn't recommended, and the only other choice is to do nothing - which really isn't an option. I've tried all the other alternatives, following a failed microdiscectomy over four years ago.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has had two or three level disc replacement to find out how they got on!



  • I didn't even realize the FDA had approved three level disc replacements... I thought the cut off was two. Or maybe that's just in the U.S. I dunno. But yikes. Hope that goes well for ya!

    Can I ask why fusion was not recommended? That is the "gold standard", generally.
  • I've been a regular on the board for the last 6-8 months but have never heard of anyone having a 3 level ADR which doesn't mean it hasn;t happened but just that I haven't read it here.
    You didn't mention if your surgery is in the cervical or lumbar which really makes a big difference.
    I hope someone is able to help you and yes I too would be interested in hearing why a fusion was not appropriate but an ADR is.

    Blessings Sara O:)
  • advertisement
  • showed that all three discs - L3/4, L4/5 and L5/S1 were all pain generators. Replacing any two would still leave the third, so they all need to go.

    In England, to my knowledge, only 21 people have had 3 level disc replacements, so it's pretty rare over here as well, and only one surgeon will consider doing it (he's done all of those 21). I believe a surgeon in Germany has done a few too. I'm aware they don't do three levels in the US.

    Fusion was not considered an option for me because of the risk to adjoining discs. Originally I just had the one severely prolpased disc (L3/4) which I had a microdiscectomy on, but as a reult of that surgery failing I now have three degenerative discs, all of which are pain generators.

    Having been told by so many people (including medical professionals) not to have this surgery I feel very apprehensive, but I feel I have no choice. I can't carry on as I am.
  • On 1/12/2007 spent 12 hours in surgery having 5 level fusion. Was fused from L1 to S1. Rods screws and cages. Don't do it unless it is an emergency.
  • Yikes... Only 21? If that makes you comfortable enough, go for it! I know a lot of people are hesitant when it comes to disc replacements because not much is known about the long term effects. They actually have not even proven whether the disc replacements over fusion provide the spine with less stress. There are not enough clinical trials and long term data to make that conclusion. Jury is still out on that one.

    Fusion pose somewhat of a risk to the surrounding discs, but that's not just for your situation, that's with everyone's. So you really are no less a candidate for fusion than anyone else... It is just that your doctor has his own views and preferences on what he feels is right and chooses to do.

    There are a lot of people on here who have had multi level fusions, and I think some who have had fusions combined with disc replacements, that can offer you loads of support and personal experiences. You've come to the right place!

    I wish you the best with your surgery and I hope you find relief :)
  • advertisement
  • Interested to hear how you are now after a year. Have you fused on all levels?

    Janey, I am not wanting to put you off just covering all bases, did you have a second opinion on this and if so did that second opinion saw also that fusion was out of the question.
    For all of us having fusion, the risk to adacent levels is increased so is there a reason why in particular it wouldn't work such as osteo?

    On a brighter note 22 is a really powerful number in numerology and you would be pretty well off to be the 22nd patient. :)

    Blessings Sara O:)
  • yes I had a number of other opinions. The surgeon who did my discectomy four years ago said he could offer fusion, but wouldn't recommend it for me. Another three surgeons just gave me that familiar pitying look and said they wouldn't recommend fusion but that they didn't have an alternative to suggest (you get pretty sick of hearing "learn to live with it", don't you?).

    This surgeon now is the only one who has offered me anything at all. It's a pity that what he's offered is so huge, so risky, so experimental (and so very, very expensive!), but it's all I have on offer.

    Yes, let's hope the number 22 works for me - nothing else has!

  • I am no doctor but let common sense jump in here.
    You are only 21? What on earth is your diagnosis that the doctors will not do a fusion but someone has offered a 3 level ADR?

    One level, sure i can see the logic, may even work as long as the docs are absolutely clear on the pain generators but like my own history, I have numerous issues casuing signcant pain so there are no gaurentees and that is even before operative complications (again I have had some of the more unusual ones) and then nerve recovery is such an unknown.

    I would not haste into that at all. Also you need to ask what afterwards, when the life of the ADR is expired (by means of naturally) I mean...will they fuse you then?

    Some docs are very conservative in their offerings, perhaps because of your age and subsequent risks for when you are older. That said, would a specialist centre opionon (Spine Centre) not be of value?

    I have pm'ed you too.
  • I'm actually 48! There have only been 21 three replacement disc operations done in England, as far as I can tell, all by the surgeon who is operating on me.

    No-one knows the life span of prosthetic discs yet because they haven't been around for long enough. The NHS wouldn't fund my surgery because it is too new and experimental and there isn't any evidence yet as to how effective it might or might not be.

    Having been to a number of surgeons previously with no joy (just lots of pitying looks and a "we can't do anything more for you" brush off) I finally went in desperation to the Lonodn Spine Clinic at Harley Street. This is where I found this surgeon who is a pioneer in the field of disc replacement surgery.

    I have to have faith in him as no-one has offered me anything else, and I certainly can't carry on as I am for much longer. I know it's risky, and hugely expensive, but I really feel I have no choice.
  • I don't know where i got that from !

Sign In or Register to comment.